The Russellville Indians girls basketball team (8-6) completed a comeback Jan. 25 as it defeated the Tuscumbia Lions (10-6) 64-49 in the first round of Russellville's home basketball tournament.
Russellville led 15-12 after the first quarter, but in the second quarter, the team struggled on offense. The Indians were outscored 21-9 in the second quarter.
Russellville trailed 21-18 with less than 4:00 left before halftime and was able to cut the lead down to two points thanks to a basket by Camie Grayson. The Lions responded and made it a 25-20 game with less than 3:00 to go. A score by Camryn Paull made it a 25-22 game with just more than 2:00 left in the quarter, but Tuscumbia extended the lead to seven points at 29-22 with around 1:30 left. At halftime, the Indians trailed 33-24.
In the third quarter, the Indians trailed by 10 points at 36-26 with less than 5:00 left in the quarter. The shots then started to fall for the Indians as they cut the lead down to six points at 36-30. A three-pointer by Ella Volkart made it a 39-33 game with around 3:00 left in the quarter.
Russellville kept it going, capping off a 10-2 run with back-to-back three-pointers by Josie Stewart and Volkart to give the Indians a 43-41 lead with around 1:00 left in the quarter. The Lions tied it at 43, but Russellville retook the lead at 46-43 after a three-pointer by Stewart with around 23 seconds left. The quarter ended on a high note as Allison Schrimpf blocked the Lions buzzer beater attempt to keep the score at 46-43 entering the final quarter.
Indians head coach Brian Bishop said that effort was a big reason for the team being able to go on a run to take the lead in the third quarter.
"We had to figure some things out at halftime, and we came out and pressured (Tuscumbia) really hard and tried to speed them up and I think that is what happened," Bishop said. "Making some shots helped. Once we started hitting a few, it got contagious and everybody was hitting them."
The Indians kept up the hot streak at the start the fourth quarter, going on a 9-0 run to make it a 55-43 game with less than 6:00 left to go in the game. The Lions cut the lead down to six points at 55-49 with just more than 4:00 left to go. That would be as close as Tuscumbia would get in the final quarter; the Indians bolstered their lead to 11 points at 60-49 with less than 3:00 to go and Russellville was able to hold on for the win.
The Indians outscored the Lions 40-16 in the second half. The Indians' three-point shooting helped in that regard; they scored six three-pointers in the second half after making only three in the first.
Bishop said making threes is huge for the team's energy.
"It is huge. It gets the crowd into it, and like I said, it is contagious. Once one hits it and sees it go in, then it seems like everybody else can start hitting them," Bishop said.
The Indians' defense also played a role in the team's strong second half, as their press made things difficult for the Lions. The Indians took the ball away five times in the second half. Bishop said the team did a good job of getting pressure on the ball after halftime.
Following the win, Bishop said the team can learn to never give up during games.
"Keep playing hard for 32 minutes, and that was probably the best half of basketball we have played all year in that second half," Bishop said. "We played as a team, we played fast and we played tough."
Grayson led the Indians with 17 points, followed by Schrimpf with 13 points and Stewart with 12 points.
The Indians' next game is at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 against Belle (12-3) in the second round of the Russellville tournament. Belle bested Calvary Lutheran 66-32 in its first-round game.